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A Feast Of Festivals

There’s always a celebration in Hong Kong & Taiwan

Whether clients are visiting for the first time or making a return journey, a Hong Kong/Taiwan two-destination trip is “great for cultural explorers,” said Michael Lim, Director, Canada, Central & South Americas at the Hong Kong Tourism Board. “There are different experiences to fit every type of visitor and there are a lot of hidden treasures in both destinations.”

Tai Hang FireDragon

Tai Hang Fire Dragon

Festivals are frequent in both places. In Hong Kong, the fall season kicks off in October with the Cyclothon – one of the highlights is a 50km cycling event featuring thousands of amateur and professional riders, followed by the Wine & Dine Festival at the end of that month, then the month-long Great November Feast, and rounding up the year with the Hong Kong WinterFest in December.

The city’s biggest and most colourful festival takes place in February when the entire city celebrates the Chinese New Year, followed by the annual Hong Kong Arts Month in March when local and international artists in a variety of disciplines descend on the city.

When it comes to exploring the city itself, Lim has a few personal favourites: “My all-time favourite is [going up] Victoria Peak, and I still love the Star Ferry,” which Lim notes costs only roughly 50 cents Canadian to ride. “But just strolling along the streets is a great way to see the city.”

Lim says Hong Kong’s many distinct and eclectic neighbourhoods are like cities within a city, each with its own culture and personality, each one telling a story.

Old Town Central, for example, is one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most archetypal neighbourhoods. A microcosm of the city, it’s where influences and traditions collide, and as such is a great starting point for visitors. Lim recommends hoping aboard the ding ding, or double decker street tram, and sitting in the upper deck as a great way to explore the different neighbourhoods. The journey takes 1.5 hours from start to finish. “We are a compact destination but have a huge array of things to see and do,” he says.

Old Town Central

Old Town Central

Lim also recommends getting outside the city and exploring some of the over 200 outlying islands – Lautau Island, Lamma Island, Cheung Chau and Peng Chau among them. A world away from Hong Kong’s trademark hectic pace, these islands offer visitors the opportunity to hit a beach, explore nature, and generally unwind.

There is no shortage of things to see and do in Taiwan either. Festivals are abundant, with the Lantern Festival being among the largest and most well-known. Celebrated annually to mark the end of the Chinese New Year (in 2019 it will take place on 19FEB), the festival is celebrated with fanfare across the island, with the internationally famed Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taipei, the Bombing Lord Han Dan in Taitung, and the Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival in Tainan among the highlights.

Taiwan also plays hosts to an annual Cycling Festival where enthusiasts from around the world come together to explore the island’s many trails and to take in the stunning scenery. With events that run the gamut from beginner to experienced, the festival caters to everyone. There is also now a new Summer Festival that launched this past June and features a series of activities covering five themes: sports, food, summer solstice, sand sculptures, and railroad travels.

Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake

When it comes to nature, this is where Taiwan really shines. Visitors can make their way outside the city centre and take a gondola ride up the peak of Maokong. From here, the Maokong Tea Farm, which produces the famous Bouzhong tea, awaits. At night, colourful lights give the area a lovely glow and visitors are invited to stop at one of the cafés for a cup of tea before heading back down the mountain.

Sun Moon Lake is another natural wonder. With calm turquoise waters and mountains in the background, it is Taiwan’s largest natural lake. Many people visit to explore the scenic cycling routes, or to take a boat tour to the tiny island of Lalu. The Sun Moon Lake Ropeway is another way to explore the area, offering birds-eye views of the lake and surrounding region.

While both Taiwan and Hong Kong are compact in size, they each pack a big punch in attractions and events.

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